How to grow food indoors, year round

Growing vegetables indoors is key to providing your family with high quality, nutrient dense, clean food. Canned and preserved foods are great but they can't match the taste and quality of fresh. The good news is that it’s not as difficult to grow vegetables indoors, as you might think. There are a however few secrets that will ensure indoor gardening success, and once you learn them, it’ll be just like growing food outside – mostly. You will have some limitations in terms of space and the types of plants you can grow, but with a little knowledge and the right tools, it is possible to consistently grow nutrient-dense, organic food indoors, year-round.

Here are some basics to get started with your very own indoor vegetable garden?

Choosing the method or methods best for you

Your basic options are 1) hydroponics, 2) aquaponics or 3) greenhouse? We will spend most of our time investigating hydroponics as almost everything related to hydroponics is relevant to aquaponics.

  1. Hydroponics is a popular method of growing food indoors, as it involves using nutrient-rich water rather than soil to grow the plants.

  2. Aquaponics is another option which combines the benefits of hydroponics with those of raising fish. Side note, this is my favorite of the three! You get vegetables and fish and if done right is a closed loop system wherein you have no additional inputs.

  3. Greenhouse gardening is another great option for growing vegetables indoors, especially if you have a backyard and alot of cash for construction and maintenance. A greenhouse can be used to provide protection for your plants from the elements, and can be used to extend the growing season by providing a controlled environment.

Hydroponics growing trays

Choose the right vegetables to grow indoors

Not all plants will thrive in an indoor environment, so if you want to produce healthy plants be sure to choose ones that are well suited to growing indoors. This will usually include herbs, leafy greens, and smaller veggies like cherry tomatoes or strawberries.

Here is a few examples of the easiest vegetables to grow in a greenhouse or hydroponic/aquaponic system.

Leafy Salad Greens

Most leafy salad greens are cool weather crop that can be grown year-round in a greenhouse or hydroponic system. The key to success with salad greens is to keep the roots moist and the leaves dry.


Tomato plants are a warm weather crop that can be grown in a greenhouse or hydroponic system. The key to success with tomatoes is to provide them with plenty of sunlight and water.


Cucumbers are a warm weather crop that can grow indoors, in a greenhouse or hydroponic/aquaponic system. The key to success with cucumbers is to provide them with plenty of water.


Peppers are a warm weather crop that can grow indoors, in a greenhouse or hydroponic/aquaponic system. The key to success with peppers is to provide them with plenty of sunlight and water.


Eggplants are a warm weather crop that can grow indoors, in a greenhouse or hydroponic system. The key to success with eggplants is to provide them with plenty of sunlight and water.


Squash is a warm weather crop ideal for an indoor garden. They are well suited to be grown in a greenhouse or hydroponic system. The key to success with squash is to provide them with plenty of sunlight and water.


Beans are a cool weather crop also ideal for an indoor garden. They are also well suited to be grown in a greenhouse or hydroponic system. The key to success with beans is to keep the roots moist and the leaves dry.


Carrots are a cool weather crop that can be grown in a greenhouse or hydroponic system. The key to success with carrots is to keep the roots moist and the leaves dry

Invest in the right equipment.

To successfully indoor plants, you’ll need things like an artificial light system to supplement natural light, quality potting soil or growing medium and containers, a water and pump system, humidity controls, and possibly even some sort of climate control system.

Pay attention to the details.

Indoor growing requires just as much care and attention as growing outdoors, so be sure to pay close attention to things like water, organic fertilizer, pest management, and adequate light.

Don’t get discouraged!

To start growing vegetables indoors can be challenging, but with a little practice and patience, you’ll be able to successfully harvest from an indoor garden, year-round. The benefits of having fresh, organic produce right at your fingertips are well worth the effort.

Methods of growing food indoors include using hydroponics, aquaponics and greenhouses. If you’re just starting out, it may be helpful to try a combination of methods and see what works best for your space and growing conditions. With the right tools and knowledge, you can successfully grow food indoors year round – no matter where you live!

Vertical Hydroponic Grow System

What is hydroponics and how does it work

Hydroponics is an indoor garden method of soil-less growing that has been around for centuries. The word hydroponics comes from the Greek words “hydro”, meaning water, and “ponics”, meaning labor. hydroponics is a method of growing plants in a solution, without the use of soil.

The benefits of hydroponics include increased yields, reduced water and energy requirements, and the ability to grow vegetables indoors in difficult or hostile environments.

How does hydroponics work?

Plants grown in hydroponic systems get their nutrients from a water-based solution, rather than from soil. The roots of the plant are submerged in the solution, and the plant gets the oxygen it needs from the air.

Hydroponic systems can be either active or passive. Active systems have pumps that circulate the nutrient solution, while passive systems rely on gravity to circulate the solution.

The type of hydroponic system you choose will depend on your specific needs and goals. There are several types of hydroponic systems, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. If you’re looking for an easy way to get started with hydroponics, you can purchase hydroponic kits that come with everything you need to get started. These kits are a great way to learn about hydroponics and see if it’s something you’re interested in pursuing further.

Types of hydroponic systems

Wick System

Is relatively simple and inexpensive to set up. However, it is not as efficient as other hydroponic methods and requires more frequent watering.

The ebb and flow system

Is another common option, which uses a pump to periodically flood the roots with nutrients. This system is more efficient than the wick system, but it can be prone to leaks.

The drip system

Is another option, which slowly drips nutrients onto the roots. This method is very efficient, but it can be expensive to set up.

The aeroponic system

Uses mist to provide nutrients to the roots. This method is very efficient, but it requires a high level of maintenance.

Advantages of hydroponics

Hydroponics uses water instead of soil for growing. This might sound like a strange idea, but there are actually a number of advantages to hydroponics.

Easier to control the environment

It's much easier to control the environment when the plants are growing in water. This means that you can more easily regulate factors like temperature, humidity, and light levels.

Space Saver

Hydroponics can be space efficient because you can grow plants in vertically-oriented systems.

Multi-level Vertical Hydroponic Grow System


And finally, hydroponics can be used to recycle water and nutrients, making it a more sustainable way of growing plants.

So if you're looking to grow vegetables indoors, why not set up a small test system and give hydroponics a try?

How to set up a basic hydroponic system

Here's a list of supplies you will need and the steps required to set up your own hydroponic system.

  1. A container. This can be anything from a plastic bucket to a fish tank.

  2. A growing medium. This could be gravel, sand, or hydroton balls.

  3. A submersible pump.

  4. An air stone.

  5. Air tubing.

  6. A net pot or grow cup.

  7. Plant Seeds or clones.

  8. Plant food.

  9. pH test kit.

  10. TDS meter (optional).

  11. Grow lights

Steps to set up your hydroponic system

Step 1. Choose a container. Any type of container will work as long as it is waterproof and has drainage holes. Plastic buckets or storage bins are often used for hydroponic systems.

Step 2. Fill the container with a growing medium. There are many types of growing mediums that can be used for hydroponics, including perlite, vermiculite, and coco coir.

Step 3. Set up a submersible pump in the container. The pump will circulate water through the system and provide nutrients to the plants.

Step 4. Attach an air stone to the tubing coming from the pump. The air stone will introduce oxygen into the water, which is essential for plant growth.

Step 5. Connect the tubing to a timer so that the pump will only run for specific intervals throughout the day.

Step 6. Test the water before adding plants to the system. Use a TDS meter to test for nutrient levels and a pH test kit to test the acidity of the water. Adjust as necessary.

Step 7. Sow seeds or seedlings to the container and watch them grow!

A few common questions about feeding your plants

How often do you feed plants in a hydroponic system?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as the frequency of feeding will depend on a number of factors. In general, hydroponic plants will need to be fed more frequently than soil-grown plants, since they do not have access to nutrients from the ground. Factors that can affect how often you feed your plants in a hydroponic system include the type of plants being grown, the size and configuration of the system, and any environmental conditions that might affect plant growth. Some hydroponic gardeners use a simple calendar-based approach to feeding, while others rely on more sophisticated tools like nutrient meters or pH testing kits to monitor their plants' needs.

What do you feed plants in a hydroponic system?

In order to feed plants in a hydroponic system, you need to provide them with the nutrients they need to grow and thrive. Typically, this involves using a nutrient solution made up of water, minerals, and other ingredients that can help plants access key nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium. There are many different recipes and formulations for nutrient solutions, and you may need to experiment a bit to find the right solution for your plants' specific needs. Additionally, it is important to regularly test the pH and TDS levels of your nutrient solution in order to make sure that they fall within an optimal range. Beyond nutrients, you may also need to add things like carbon dioxide or oxygen to your system in order to ensure that your plants are getting enough of these key elements for growth. Ultimately, the success of your hydroponic system will depend on having a good understanding of what your plants need and how you can provide it for them.

Can I make my own hydroponic plant food?

Yes, you can make your own hydroponic plant food using a variety of ingredients and formulations. To create your own plant food for hydroponics, you will need to start by choosing the right combination of nutrients for your plants. This may involve doing some research or experimenting with different recipes until you find the right balance that supports healthy plant growth.

Looking to give your hydroponic plants a little boost?

Example hydroponic DIY recipe:

You can easily make your own hydroponic plant food at home with just a few simple ingredients. Here's a quick and easy recipe to get you started:

- 1 cup of water

- 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

- 1/4 teaspoon of Epsom salt

- 1/4 teaspoon of hydrated lime

Simply mix all of the ingredients together and apply to your plants as needed. Baking soda helps to promote healthy growth, while Epsom salt provides essential nutrients. Hydrated lime helps to adjust the pH level of the solution, making it ideal for hydroponic plants. With this simple recipe, you can give your plants the nourishment they need to thrive.

What is aquaponics and how does it work

Aquaponics? It's like hydroponics, but with fish! Or at least, that's the simple answer. aquaponics is a type of agriculture where plants and animals are raised together in a closed-loop system. Fish waste provides nutrients for the plants, and the plants help to filter the water for the fish. It's a symbiotic relationship that can be used to produce both food and ornamental plants. aquaponics is a sustainable way of farming that doesn't require any soil or chemical fertilizers. It also has a lower water usage than traditional agriculture, making it an ideal method of farming in areas with limited water resources. If you're looking to get into aquaponics, you'll need a fish tank, grow bed, and some filter media. Aquaponics is a fun and rewarding way to produce your own food, so why not give it a try?

Types of aquaponic systems

There are a few different aquaponic systems, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. The most common type of systems are:

Flood and drain system

This system uses a pump to circulate water between the fish tank and the grow bed. The grow bed is filled with plants, which filter the water and provide nutrients for the fish. The main advantage of this system is that it is relatively easy to maintain. However, it can be tricky to regulate the water level, and if the pump fails, the entire system can quickly become overloaded.

Deep water culture system

This system uses a floating raft to support the plants. The roots of the plants are submerged in the water, which provides them with nutrients and oxygen. This system is very efficient, but it can be difficult to set up and maintain.

Continuous flow system

This system constantly circulates water between the fish tank and grow bed. It is very efficient, but it requires a lot of energy to operate.


You don't need an expensive heated greenhouse to grow food in the middle of winter. You can use a spare bedroom or common space to set up a small hydroponic system or be a little more adventurous and build out an aquaponic system that will not only provide you with fresh vegetables and leafy greens but a constant source of farm raised fish.

Happy growing!

Be the first to comment

Table of Contents